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Saturday, June 4, 2011
Mailbag: Getting Houston's D to average

By Paul Kuharsky

Joey Harvey from San Antonio, TX writes: When considering physical demands, how can NHL players handle 80 games a yr and NFL players only 16?

Paul Kuharsky: Hockey is very physical and the ability of players to endure the grind can be remarkable.

Still, I think even most hockey players would tell you the ability to bounce back from a hockey game and from a football game are different. I don’t think a hockey player is taking the pounding in one game that a running back or lineman takes in one game. A hockey shift and a football series are two different things, too.

Rivers McCown from Houston writes: Assuming that the Texans miss out on [Nnamdi] Asomugha because, well, they're the Texans, is signing someone like Carlos Rogers or Ike Taylor along with a safety such as Gerald Sensabaugh enough in your mind to get the Texans defense to average?

Paul Kuharsky: I like the idea of Rogers or Taylor. But Sensabaugh is no big solution. Jaguars have all kind of safety issues and they dropped him a couple years back. Add one of those corners and find a safety and they could be on their way to average.

Ben from the UK writes: After seeing your response on the Plaxico Burress issue, I must say I disagree with your assessment on the Colts' requirements. Your description of what the Colts need as a 'sharp route runner who reads coverage and adjusts' merely sounds like Austin Collie, and to an extent what we still have with Reggie Wayne. Do you not feel we need someone with game-breaking speed and utility around the offense (like for example Reggie Bush minus the ridiculous salary) as opposed to another slower route runner?

Paul Kuharsky: Yes, they need game-breaking speed. I don’t think Burress has it. (And even a speedster needs to run routes the way the Colts expect.)

I refer to someone more knowledgeable than me on such things, Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc.:
“It is Burress' movement skills that I worry about. Even a few years ago when he was in his prime, Burress was never a real quick-twitch guy. He is a long strider who had build-up speed, but he wasn't quick, elusive or explosive. Now, you just have to think that those movement skill qualities have lessened over the past two years.

“Although he might look great and probably spent a lot of time in prison lifting weights, I tend to think that keeping his explosiveness under the circumstances he was in was close to impossible. And he does turn 34 in August.

"Now, like [Michael] Vick, that isn't to say he can't get those skills back to some extent. But separating from defenders seems like the hurdle Burress is going to have the most difficult time getting over upon his return.”

Doesn’t sound to me like a guy who would give the Colts what they lack.

Adam C from Central Vermont writes: Missed your chat yesterday Paul due to a busy spell at work. I read that you think the Titans should target a guy like Carson Palmer, but said a second round pick was too expensive to do so. Would Cincinnati really be willing to take less than that? What do you think is an offer the Titans should give to see if Cincy will actually accept?

Paul Kuharsky: Once they spent No. 8 on Jake Locker, the option of giving up a value pick to get a veteran disappeared. They can’t trade now for a guy who they may only stick with as the starter for six games.

So it’s got to be a free agent: Matt Hasselbeck, Kerry Collins or one of the lesser names who will be on the market and cost nothing more than a contract.

@texantakeover writes: Do you think that with the Texans defense vastly improved this year would allow them to overtake the Colts for the division?

Paul Kuharsky: Vastly improved? We’re basing that on a new coordinator, some new assistants and a draft class? I’m going to need to see it all result in better play before I declare the Texans D vastly improved. And even if it’s vastly improved I have trouble seeing Houston winning the division.

Dan from Raleigh, NC writes: The Randy Moss experiment was a failure but the Titans could still use some help on the outside. When FA starts, does Plax get a shot? Or are the Titans' sights aimed exclusively at a veteran QB?

Paul Kuharsky: I don’t see them chasing another big-name veteran receiver. And I can’t imagine Mike Munchak and his staff -- who will put a premium on discipline and character -- are looking to start off with a big acquisition of a guy who just got out of jail.